Following up from our blog post about how COVID-19 has impacted advertising, I wanted to share a few additional thoughts.

First of all, our thoughts are with anyone directly affected by the virus. We are hopeful and optimistic that human ingenuity can make this a concern of the past.

As almost everyone has experienced, we too see major changes in how consumers are behaving, how families are feeding themselves, what people are doing to entertain themselves, and how people are staying connected to each other.

For many people, this reality represents a worst case scenario once thought unimaginable – as most commerce has effectively shut down. For how long, nobody knows. The business carousel simply shutting down at once, across many industries, and leaving us unable to even hang out with friends – is unprecedented in modern history.

I’m a four-time startup founder who has lived through the prior two experiences (2001 and 2008) as part of smaller companies. Startups are normally “dinghies in the ocean” but are particularly so in times like these.

So we certainly empathize with many of our franchise and small business operator advertisers who are going through tremendous uncertainty – figuring out how to pay rent, compensate loyal employees, and keep their businesses going. It’s a financial AND emotional shock that affects business relationships, personal relationships, and families – A LOT for people to endure.

On the advertising front, we are optimistic in the short-term (and possibly longer) for anyone who still considers now to be a good time to reach consumers.

Ad prices have not been lower in about a decade. On Facebook, we are seeing CPM prices for certain ad units to be at 10 year lows. It stands to reason – many people are flocking to digital platforms now as they are working from home or are perhaps underemployed. They are seeking friends and connections to get through this uncertain time. People are learning what they can through Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube as alternatives to traditional broadcast media, newspapers, and magazines. With more people on Facebook, Instagram, Google, YouTube, et al and fewer advertising dollars flowing, there has never been a better time to get the word out about a new product or service.

Keep in mind, however, there is a proper and improper way to advertise in the current climate. We have seen advertisers appear to be too opportunistic, and in turn alienate consumers. These are challenging times, so be careful with HOW you are marketing yourself to consumers. Anything resembling “profiteering” in times of crisis comes off as distasteful and potentially damaging to the long-term health of a brand.

Today, people are looking for uplifting messages and hope for the future. While there are plenty of tragic and terrible stories out there to read or hear, there is opportunity in supporting and uplifting peoples’ spirits. While there may be short-term opportunity, there is longer-term brand affinity to win in stressful times.

We hope you and yours keep safe as the world continues to grapple with COVID-19. It may be a rocky road in the short-term, but things WILL return to normal. We’ll celebrate with friends, enjoy each other’s company (probably more when this is all over), and appreciate the conveniences and entertainment of modern life. We’ll also make changes to our behavior – whether being more open to buying products online, more willing to wear masks in public, and perhaps work from home more often.

If you’re able to think with a long-term perspective, think about how you can intelligently and tastefully make your business relevant as we all live through this crisis. We are always open to discussion on how advertising can help.

Chris Treadaway

Chris Treadaway is the CEO of Polygraph. He was previously Group Product Manager of Web Strategy at Microsoft and a Founder of Stratfor. He is the two-time author of Facebook Marketing An Hour a Day and is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer on data-driven marketing.